Thursday, December 1, 2011

Attention San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

If I had to pick one of the most clever of the old jazz tunes— and certainly the one with most intriguing rhyming pattern— I would vote for Manhattan by Rodgers and Hart. The intricate phrasing and internal rhymes are unique in the jazz standard repertoire. Cole Porter’s You’re the Top comes close in the rhyming, phrasing and ingenuity department, but for my money, Manhattan stands alone.

For some reason, I was inspired to look up a version I wrote 10 years ago, changing locale and lyrics to San Francisco. Like so many things I do, I wrote it on a lark and probably three people have ever heard it sung. And then it sat in my computer file gathering dust. (What does gather in computer files—electron debris?) Until today, when I printed it and brought it to the Jewish Home to sing with my gang there. May I report that they absolutely loved it? And suggested I take it to the Chamber of Commerce and have it instituted as some kind of San Francisco anthem.

And so I include it here (note the copyright— no plagiarism, please!) in hopes that it will either go viral or some reader just happens to be good friends with someone on the SF Board of Supervisors or works in the Chamber of Commerce. (Does this still exist? Has anyone ever gone to the Chamber of Commerce? And no, I’m not going to Google it and look it up. At least not now. Some things deserve to just hang as questions.)

Of course, it helps if you know the song and I can’t depend on the average American’s jazz standard repertoire knowledge. So you may have to do some homework to get the full effect and sing along. I'm partial to Blossom Dearie's version, but any will do. You might also have to do some SF history homework. Do you know the Kingston Trio? Know that they used to sing at the Hungry I on Broadway and that Mort Sahl did political commentary until it became a strip joint? Did you know about Carol Doda? And I should add a few new verses to cover the last ten years of SF history. Especially with the depressing last verse.

At any rate, enjoy! And pass it on. (With my copyright attached!)

(Next posting, the story of my 3rd grade year told through Irving Berlin’s “Always.”)

The SAN FRANCISCO version of Rodger and Hart's  MANHATTAN
                                © 2001 Doug Goodkin
1. The peacenik  kids go,      to San Francisco,     in July,
    They lie on hippie hill       so high.
    And all the rest go,     to drink expresso,       in old North Beach,
    They sit and write a poem,             or else they dial home,             on their cell phone.

    There's Ferlinghetti,             in old Spaghetti,             Factory
    He's signing books you see,             for me.
    This small town's city's a wondrous treat,
    Whether you're square or beat,
    In San Francisco,             we'll sneak a kiss so sweet.

2. Let's dilly-dally,    on Kerouac Alley,             near City Lights,
    Or hit the Hungry I,             Oh my!
    The Kingston Trio,             we'll never see so,             let's go in.
    Where Carol Doda's skin,     made all the leches grin,     chin to chin.

     Walk for an hour,        up to Coit Tower,             to catch the view.
     We'll watch the fog roll in,             boo hoo!
     Though the guidebooks always say,
      Don't dress for a summer's day,
      We're here in San Fran,             we'll change to pants and stay.

3. Embarcadero,             you've got the fare so,        get on board,
    The ferry on the Bay,             Hoo-ray!
    Drive south of Market,             if you can park it,             or ride on Bart
    To the Museum of Art,      or to the new ball park,    for a lark.

     In Sausalito,             where the elite go,             to stop and shop
     The trendy stores so hip,             or not.
     We can stop at Alcatraz,             then go out and hear some jazz,
     Another good day,             on San Francisco Bay.

4. In San Francisco,             you can go disco,             dance at night.
    By day, you fly a kite,            all right!
    It's very fash' nable,      the international        neighborhoods.
    Go eat a Boston sub,      or find an Irish pub,     or salsa club.

    We'll study Russian,             or play percussion,             at the Wharf.
    Or take a workshop on,             Carl Orff.
    We can learn what we want to know
    Or take in an ethnic show,
    It's San Francisco,    so come kids, let's go.

7. All day we'll mirth make,        forget the earthquake,        we'll live for now.
    Do what the crowds allow,             and how!
    We're here without Mom,   with all the dot com,     she'll never come.
    Because the scene's too young, all those pierc-ed tongues   climbing rungs.

     Rents astronomic,         a bad dot-com-ic,     mom and pops shut down,
     The low and middle class,    leave town.
     This great old city has lost its edge,     Turned into a well-pruned hedge,
     No longer shame-faced,             it's not the same place now.   

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